Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors (Cohen Commission): Records
|Title:||Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors (Cohen Commission): Records|
The files were created by the Cohen Commission between 1946 and 1954 and relate to claims for remuneration from members of the public who claimed to have designed, created or usefully adapted inventions that served a valuable purpose to Great Britain's war effort during the Second World War (1939-1945). Some of these inventions were extremely famous; e.g. the time pencils, tank flails and 'Mulberry' floating harbours to name a few. Many claims for remunerative awards for inventions were actually settled by the relevant government ministries without reference to the Commission. Also, many that were referred to the Commission were subsequently withdrawn by the claimants before a hearing could be arranged. Such withdrawals are noted in the indexes and registers used by the Commission staff.
Apart from the Indexes and Registers, it appears that five separate filing systems were employed by the Cohen Commission. The records comprise the following categories.
Many of the C prefix claim files will be annotated with one of the following scripts: 'Head 1','Head 2', 'Head 3' or 'Head 4'. These refer to specific types of cases heard under the terms of reference specified under the Cohen Commission's Royal Warrant. These terms of reference are explained in the 'Administrative history' .
Other addenda on the files can include 'S.P.' which refers to 'Shortened Procedure' used when a case was able to be fast-tracked through a simplified procedure. Its initial use was referenced in the Second Report of the Commission (Cmd. 7832, November 1949, Para. 5 to 9) where a simplified form of procedure was sanctioned where much of the evidence on the validity of the claim had already been established by the relevant government department, ready to be submitted to the Commission's Secretariat for further comment or new points to be raised by the claimant. Patent numbers can also appear on the file coves where the invention was registered with the Patent Office. These are often present when a claim was being heard by the Commission under Head 3.
These records were probably arranged within their original separate filing systems according to prefix arrangement number arrangement. However, as the Commission procedure progressed the records of these separate filing system records came together as composite case files for the purpose of the Commission hearings and, it appears most were never returned to their original order. For this reason, records relating to a particular case / invention will include some or all of the above records from the originally separate five filing systems noted above.
|Held by:||The National Archives, Kew|
|Legal status:||Public Record(s)|
Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors, 1946-1955
|Physical description:||138 box(es)|
|Administrative / biographical background:||
The Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors (known as the 'Cohen Commission' after the Chairman of the Commission, Lord Justice Cohen) was created by a Royal Warrant dated 15 May 1946. Its purpose was to award remuneration to members of the public who had valid legal claims of ownership of copyright to inventions and processes used during World War 2 (1939-1945) by the British government and other allied governments in exercising their emergency war powers. Remuneration was also provided by the Commission where it could be proved that an existing copyrighted invention, design or process had been successfully and uniquely adapted to serve a useful war purpose.
The terms of reference for the Commission were arranged under four headings in the Royal Warrant. These were:
From 10 February 1947 to 14 December 1955 the Cohen Commission sat in public for a total of 397 days and heard 440 claims under its Royal Warrant terms of reference. It also published four reports (Cmd. 7586, 7832, 8743 and 9744). A Royal Warrant bringing an end to the functions of the Cohen Commission was issued on 17 March 1955.